• Writer Garth Dennis
  • Songwriter ID: 97637
  • PRO: PRS
  • Admin: CD Baby Publishing
  • Writer Saeed Ade Dennis
  • Songwriter ID: 97638
  • Pub Co: CD Baby Publishing
  • Admin: CD Baby Publishing


Garth Dennis, Saeed Ade Dennis


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Garth Dennis "Marijuana"
  • Performed By: Garth Dennis
  • Album: Trenchtown 19 3rd Street
  • Album UPC: 888295217613
  • Album ID: garthdennis2
  • Label: Dennis Dynasty
  • CD Baby Account: CDB04574719
  • CD Baby Track ID: TR0001213707
  • ISRC: QM9AA1488330
  • Released: 02/06/15

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HOME THAT HONED REGGAE HISTORY~~ 19 Third Street. Roots Rock Reggae at its finest. Classic Reggae / Nyahbinghi Riddims / Music to soothe your Soul. Liner notes by ROGER STEFFENS, a Reggae Music Historian who is a life long friend of Garth Dennis.


By Roger Steffens
“I’ve given my first album a ‘Home of History’ title,” says veteran reggae great Garth Dennis. It’s the last day of June 2014 and we are sitting with his meditative son Saeed and genial wife Jenje in the Reggae Archives in L.A., surrounded by proof of his long career with some of the biggest names in the music. “Want to know why it took so long to make this album? I kept regrouping with my former groups” he chuckles.
His claim to history is predicated on the fact that he was in the red-hot center of where it all began – his home Third Street in Trench Town – at ten years of age, meeting Bob Marley when he first arrived in the area that birthed so many future world-famous artists. “There were people like Joe Higgs,” he recalls with a smile. “Jackie Edwards, Delroy Wilson (he was my next door neighbor growing up), Alton Ellis, even my sister Joey, who had early hits in Andy and Joey. We were a very talented family. One brother Franklin ‘Little T’ Dennis represented Boys Town in cricket and went on to play world club cricket for Canada. And another brother Trevor ‘Dongodee’ Dennis represented Jamaica National side in Futbol, (Soccer).
“Joe Higgs is my ‘double-in-law’; my brother has a son with Joe’s sister and Joe’s brother has a child with my sister. I met Bob Marley and Bunny Livingston before they ever began to sing. My brother Franklin introduced Bob to Joe, who was a tutor for all of us in those days, because he was already recording as Higgs and Wilson. The Wailers - Bunny, Peter, Junior Braithwaite, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Green – evolved out of that scene.
“The Wailing Souls were taught harmony singing by Joe, first in loose groups with ever changing participants, then coming together with Pipe Matthews, Bread MacDonald and Buddy Haye and me. Our first record as the Wailing Souls came at Channel One – ‘Things and Time’. Then Coxson released a Wailing Soul album. I was also founding lineup of Black Uhuru.” around the same time, with Don Carlos and Black Uhuru.
After many years touring with the Souls, Garth was invited by Duckie Simpson to join a reformed a version of Black Uhuru with himself and Don Carlos. They cut four Grammy nominated albums for Mesa/Blue Moon and toured the world. When Garth and Don went on the road under that name, Duckie sued claiming he owned the group’s name. A court in Jamaica decided differently, awarding the rights to the name to all three founding members.
Today, Garth lives with his family several miles east of Los Angeles, becoming a teacher himself, honing the talents of his three sons in their group Blaze Mob. The younger Dennises have played in major venues and are featured on various tracks herein.
History is recalled from the very first note of this album. “Love Your Company,” is a song written by his sister Joey and released by Coxson shortly after Jamaican Independence in August of 1962. Its sprightly update is underpinned by the drumming of the majestic innovator, Sly Dunbar, providing what Garth calls ”a funk/mento feel with elements of ska and rock steady. I always loved this song as a child and I thought it didn’t get enough exposure.”
And speaking of drummers, UB40’s sticks man, known as Pops, is featured on “Jah House of Love,” recorded at that group’s studio in Oracabessa, Jamaica. Wailers’ alumnus Glen DaCosta plays vivid horns. Ever filled with hope, Garth says the song is an invitation “to bring your troubles to the House of Love and we’ll relieve your pain. A lot of people are seeing the Oneness all around them, it’s happening right now.
“So after being surrounded by all that love, it’s time you sit back and light your spliff. I wrote ‘Marijuana’ around the time of the Dudus affair [when more than 70 people were killed in the attempt to arrest one of Jamaica’s most dangerous drug dons]. So after they arrested him, there was no herb at all for awhile.” Grinning at the memory, he asserts, “Now it’s everywhere, from Amsterdam to California to Little Tokyo, and on the verge of legalization, even back home.” Son Saeed provided some lyrics, and is joined by his brothers on backing vocals.
One of the backup singers’ daughters is heard charmingly at the beginning of “Save the Children,” on which Garth is reunited with Don Carlos in a plaintive reflection on all the abused children of the world, and so many women subject to hideous disrespect.
Another friend from Garth’s teen years is the rootsiest of the rootical, Ras Michael of the Sons of Negus. Also a long-time resident of Los Angeles, he conducts weekly grounations out of his home near Florence and Normandie, the notorious corner at which the Rodney King revolt began. Ras Michael joins Garth in the lead vocals of “Eyes Open,” which voices Garths’ claim that “now that people are open to what’s going on they are waking up to reality, with the people in harmony. It is heavenly, that feeling of a glorious day, humanity coming together as one.” Local soulful saxman Al Kirk is featured.
“Love of Money” takes the old cliché and reveals its proper overstanding. “Remember, in the Bible,” says Garth, “Men say that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. It’s my indictment of capitalism and all its evils.
“Desta” is the name of Garth’s second daughter. “Desta,” he sings, “destiny leads me to your door, it make me love you more and more.” Son Gyasi is the skanking DJ.
The basic tracks for “Perfect Love” were laid at home, in the Dennis Dynasty studio that Garth and his sons use. They were then sent to genious producer Jonathan “Levi” Shanes for overdubbing. “There’s a perfect love,” Garth insists, “that surrounds us all.”
“Folk Song” was the “first record ever recorded by Black Uhuru, based on a Curtis Mayfield song with additional lyrics by Garth. It was originally cut with a lineup consisting of Garth Dennis, Don Carlos and Boris Gardener. Drumming master Santa Davis is heard here to sublime effect.
Santa is also on the following song, “Build Them Up to Let Them Down,” the subject of which is self-evident in Babylon’s boom-bust cycles. “What does it take to understand there are people out there who a-suffer?” wails Garth.
Next is “You’re Wondering Now,” an all-time classic of the early ska days for Coxson Dodd. “It came out around the time of Independence, in ’62,” recalls Garth. “It was originally cut by my sister Joan “Joey” Dennis and her partner, Reuben “Andy” Anderson. She hadn’t sung in 40 years, so I sent her the track in Toronto and she recorded her part. She sounds as good today as she did then. She’s the only female that the Wailers ever sang backup for. She also recorded for Duke Reid and Leslie Kong’s Beverly’s.”
A reprieve of “Save the Children,” an alternate take featuring Garth’s sons, closes out the album on a high note with a nod toward the future. Gyasi Gong is on drums, King Saeed on keyboards, Shaka Rock on bass and Garth himself on rhythm guitar.”

“This album has been a long, long time coming,” says Garth, relishing the thought. “But sometimes the very best comes late in the journey.”
Uhuru for I-ver

Roger Steffens, author of the forthcoming Oral History of Bob Marley for W.W. Norton. He maintains websites at:
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